Officially commencing on October 1, 2013, Historic City News has learned that the City of St Augustine has entered into a “Homeport 450th Dockage Agreement” with Fundacion Nao Victoria, owners of El Galeon Andalucia, to dock and operate one or more Spanish historical replica tall ships at the Municipal Marina; continuing through January 1, 2016.
The thirteen-page agreement, obtained by Historic City News, although not exclusive, provides for dockage and cross promotion of the historical replica of a merchant ship that travelled the coast of Florida between the 16th and 18th centuries, and the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the founding of the City of St Augustine in 2015.
“I have already heard from local readers that they are excited about the successful negotiation of this agreement for the return of El Galeon Andalucia,” Historic City News editor Michael Gold said. “Unlike some recent contracts, like the Picasso exhibit and Mumford and Sons concert, this is a contract that not only brings our authentic local heritage to life in a real way, but also it is written in a way that makes the city money.”
The St Augustine Municipal Marina operates as an Enterprise Fund; that is to say that its operation is sustained by charging various fees, rents, and through retail sales — not ad valorem property taxes. It consists of structures in and around the waterways of the City of St Augustine; consisting of mooring fields, a marina and appurtenances.
Aside from the “cultural” value, which is not in dispute, the educational vessel has already proven that it is the “right size” attraction for downtown St Augustine. Continuing ticket sales, resulting in three extensions of the original visit of El Galeon from May 21st until Monday July 22, prove that the exhibits and programs have sustainable support and participation from the local community — as well as tourists.
Income and financial benefits to the City of St Augustine:
• Sale of required business licenses
• No-charge license to use images of its docked vessels for promotion
• Identify the city as a North American home port for the vessels
• Cross-promote historic tourism and 450th Commemoration on websites
• Pay fees for each vessel docked at the City Marina
• Pay $22.25 per linear foot per month or 10% of ticket sales if greater
• Pay optional cable television and electrical service
• Pay a discounted facility fee for events on the vessel while docked
• Pay 50% of merchandise sales at City owned or operated locations
Although this agreement is clearly a win-win arrangement for the parties, the identification of St Augustine as a “homeport” shall not be exclusive, as originally thought, and allows the vessel owner to seek other sponsorship opportunities.
Also, the City is counting heavily on El Galeon for promotion of the 450th Commemoration during 2015 — unfortunately the agreement can be terminated by either party, for convenience without cause, simply by giving thirty days written advance notice of termination.